tinder mistakes men make

You already know the deal – which is why you’re here. You have your phone, you’re swiping away, you get a match. Better yet, she looks pretty okay. No duck face, a bubbly bio, nice smile. You’re already thinking this is all too good to be true. She’s obviously also going to be a certified psychopath. But, you’re brave, desperate, and mature enough to give this lady a chance. Being a gent (aka knowing what women like even if you don’t agree) you initiate the chat. She replies and still sounds sane, so you say something back. She replies again. You do too and this wonderful new thing is picking up momentum – she’s replying faster and so now you’ve got your “I’m a love god” face on and then boom! Or rather, this ___________.  Nada. Ever-ever again. Like a fart in a storm, the intensity was intoxicating but as fast as it came, away it blew with nary a trace it had ever existed at all.

What the pebbles just happened here? Are women all nuts?

No. Women are definitely not (all) nuts. However, the answer to your question is almost as simple. You played it all wrong. Yes, you, love God in the making used your cupid’s bow for (albeit unintentional) evil and shot a fiery hot arrow that unsuspecting woman’s way. And that woman’s instinctive reaction? To sprint off to more welcoming terrain – which in this case was the Tinder profile of a far safer-sounding man, leaving you baffled and well and truly now ‘danger-zoned’.

Now let’s look at the exact reasons why this has happened to you. You might have done one of these things, or two of them, or maybe – if you’re an all or nothing kinda guy – you threw your whole dreamy being at it and did every single one of these Tinder mistakes (that, as you’re about to find out, actually scare the fudge berries out of most women).

1. You sent her kisses or called her ‘babe’

There is no order to this list of distress but if there was (there only is not because they’re all equally scary), this one might be top of the list. Yes, just like it actually is. Now there are two ways around this one. My favourite and arguably the easier of the two would be simply to remove the ‘x’ from your keyboard (as if you’re honest, it’s only ever otherwise used to bang on about Brexit or sex: one of which is #2 in this list and the other of which could quite feasibly be #6); or, since that still doesn’t provide a solution for anyone using a phone that is not their great-gran’s, you will just have to read on to see why actually using the letter x multiple times in a row in conversation with a stranger makes that stranger very very wary of you.

Fortunately for you and for me, I know for a fact that this is an issue because I hear from (very distressed) women all the time who have received these variations of the inappropriate kiss:

“Hi babe, glad we matched xxx”

“Nice smile xxxxx”

“Hi sexy x”

If you recognize any of these my guess is that you weren’t intending to frighten your new ‘female you’ve never met’. But that is exactly what you have done. Because every one of those messages will have been interpreted by any rational and secure woman (i.e. woman you would like to date) as you being any or all of:

  • Superficial
  • Insincere
  • Sleazy
  • Creepy
  • Desperate
  • A player

Aka:  probably not what you were going for.

So, what to do instead (if your ‘x’ key, like you, is in it for keeps)?

Well, you could give the below a whirl.

Before you type your message to your potential new date, pause for just a second and try to imagine that she has suddenly – poof! – appeared right in front of you. Now… only type as many kisses as you would actually give that specific woman standing right in front of you at that very moment in time. If you can hand on heart envisage telling her “Nice smile”, promptly followed by five perfunctory smackers then please DM me and we can see about the specialized assistance you may very well need. Otherwise, problem solved and we can move swiftly on to scare tactic #2.

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2. You mentioned sex or sent her nude pics

Mentioning sex is also worthy of top place since it’s another thing men do online that they probably wouldn’t do offline and that women often complain scares them to bits. Scares them? Yes. Scares them. Women are not (usually) scared of sex itself or even of talking about sex. What women, however, do not like is some random male specimen smiling at them across let’s say the fruit and veg aisle, them smiling back because hey, it’s been ages and she likes his ‘a-whole-village-lives-in-my-cool-beard’ look; him puffing up, perhaps sweating a bit and then walking her way. Her feeling quite excited because cute man is about to maybe introduce himself; cute man and cute woman strike up a chat and cute man (spoiler alert: the cute’s about to expire) suddenly dropping his pants, only to start smirking and stroking his cucumber-thing – to be VERY clear, that’s the ‘cucumber’ you wouldn’t necessarily want in your salad: but no judgment if already been-there-done-that.

Wouldn’t happen, you say? Well no, probably not. Which is my point, so well done. If in real life you’d expect a woman you’d just met to taser your cucumber if you piped up about her nips, lady lawn, or best lay – not to even mention if you really did go right ahead and do an unsolicited flash of the goods, then you should expect the same response online. She might not be able to taser it off but she will almost certainly ignore or unmatch you.

Disclaimer: The only exception to this is if the woman is really feeling your vibe and has thrown caution to the wind to request a ‘special’ selfie. In this case, if she ignores or unmatches you right after you’ve sent it that’s a different issue altogether I’m afraid. But chin up, every cloth has its buyer.

3. You self-appointed yourself her Sir Lancelot

Someone’s dusty bookcase, from the start of time until now:

“The fair maiden was very rich and beautiful. But my oh my so unhappy. Without a man, she was destined to live a very wretched life indeed. But it all worked out okay because along came the prince, kissed her, saved her, married her and now she smiles and sings to birds and raccoons like she was supposed to do all along. The end.”

The inside of scary man’s head, from the start of Tinder until now:

“The fair maiden’s a right sort and oh good, she has a job. But my oh my so very unsafe. Without a man (me!) she is destined to live a sh*t incompetent life of getting back home less than okay and being assaulted in her bed of a night. But it will all work out okay because now I’ve come along and I will make it my absolute number one order of business to ask her to let me know when she gets home okay and to make sure she locks her front door. I might not be a prince (meh), might never meet her for that kiss (shame), won’t marry her (as if!), but I’ll have bloody saved her from herself, so well done me.”

Really now? What self-appointed Lancers haven’t noticed is that women (secure, mature ones) are terrified of this type of superficial ‘caring’ (you don’t even know her or have any reason to consider her ‘vulnerable’, so yes it is contrived) because to women your behavior smacks of a controlling personality; and insults them, as it assumes they cannot look after themselves in the most basic of ways.

The result is that she becomes scared that if the two of you got together you would take over her every move and strip her of all the independence she has worked a lifetime to build. She is also a little bit offended that you have already deemed her grossly incompetent within her own life without even knowing her last name.

And just in case you need yet more convincing, let’s say the woman does exactly as you ask and messages you to let you know she got home safe and sound. From her night out that didn’t involve you. Because remember, you two haven’t met. But still so far so good (if she doesn’t mind it then hey ho). You chat a few more times and then it fizzles out for whatever reason. The next week she goes out again. Pluck a duck. That lovely lady that you cared about so very much is now well and truly up that creek with not a paddle in sight. And it is ALL your fault. Because how the fudge nuggets is she supposed to get home safe and sound without being reminded by you to do so? And, assuming she still somehow manages to figure it out and does, in fact, get home okay, is it still a valid ‘safe arrival at home’ if you aren’t informed of the wondrous event?  What if it isn’t? Does this mean that she is now never ever again quite able to ‘get home okay’?

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No one’s suggesting that protectiveness isn’t lovely. It is. It’s beautiful and cozy and so absolutely appreciated – when a male and a female who like each other a lot become part of a couple. Just don’t rush to introduce it too soon or it might just be the thing that gets you unmatched or ignored.

4. You keep bombarding her with messages

You send her message after message despite getting no replies. This particularly scary habit is often cited by women like the one most likely to get you well and truly unmatched. Why? Because she’s already trying to ignore you and it isn’t working. She can see that you either don’t ‘get it’ or you don’t give a monkey’s pajamas that she’s not interested in a single thing that you have to say.

This is how this awkward of all awkwardnesses typically goes:

Josh:  “Hi Amber!”

Amber:  “Hi Josh!”

Josh: “How are you? xx”

Josh:  “Are you having a good day?”

Josh:  “Hope everything’s okay!” (Topped off with a dying-with-laughter emoji to show he’s still got his sh*t well and truly together and isn’t one bit phased by her silence. Hint:  not even the emoji itself is fooled)

Josh:  “Haven’t heard from you in a few days” (She knows?)

Josh:  “Had the best weekend! Tom had a BBQ! Loads of mates! Was grrreeeeaaaaat!!!” (He’s starting to lose it and is clearly trying too hard to make sure she knows he’s on top of the world and that she’s missing out…she’s still not fooled)

Josh: “Not sure if you got my last messages (last week/last month/last year). My phone’s been acting up! So annoying! Anyway, hope you’re well. Let me know if you get this. Speak soon!”

And so it goes on. Amber (eventually) realises your messages aren’t going to stop because you clearly know full well that she is choosing to not reply (women know you know this because women know you can see your thread of previous messages – without any replies – every time you go to send her a new one); and you are trying to manipulate her into replying just to make the annoying messages stop.

The fact that the woman understands exactly what you are up to bodes very badly for your chances of getting her to fall for your trap. You might not think this though. You might (on a good day) be forgiven for thinking that all women are caring and empathetic and conditioned by society to immediately and unquestioningly respond to others’ pain. And to some extent this is true.  But emotionally healthy women have also been conditioned to sniff out any whiff of manipulation and games and to her, the stench will be just too rank to stick around.  She will fear your nonsense, write you off, and then – albeit eventually – unmatch you.

So what’s a man to do if she doesn’t reply? The only solution to her silence is for you to graciously accept that it might very well be annoying, confusing, disappointing or impolite, but no matter what it is, if a woman doesn’t want to continue speaking to you online, then that is her prerogative.

However, there is a little wiggle room for you to attempt closure whilst still keeping your dignity fully halfway intact. If she suddenly and inexplicably stops replying to your messages – assuming you have already checked the above list of transgressions and are confident of your innocence regarding numbers one, two, three and also five – you can still send two more messages MAX without coming across as someone to avoid. But then the ball is now fully in her court. Not another word should come from you to her. Ever. Unless… she replies (almost unheard of and genuinely fantastic), or you really liked her.

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If you really liked her then it’s possible (Trump marrying T May level possible) that she really liked you too but unfortunately was arrested and has no way to reach you for the foreseeable and that all of this happened immediately after your last amazing conversation with her. If you think this might indeed explain everything then, by all means, send those two messages (as above) but then you should perhaps also wait just one more week.

Still nothing? Shoot off one last message. Let her know you had enjoyed getting to know her but that you’re looking for someone to date and so you’ll move on after another day has passed with no reply. After that, the only way to not be strange – and become the laughing stock of her and her friends or a subject of her blog is to move on by unmatching her.

5. You criticized her lifestyle

People – women too – who criticize others online tend to do this is real life as well. But really shouldn’t in either situation. Why not? Because it’s plain old very bad manners. And bad manners scare well-mannered people. Bad manners make you a big fat liability with a capital L. They are thus to be avoided at all costs (if you want well-mannered friends and dates).

This is what bad manners (vaguely disguised as criticism) looks like when chatting to your Tinder prospect: you are telling a woman you’ve just started speaking to online that she should try going organic. Or that she’ll get ill if she continues to let her dog lick her face like she’s doing in her profile pic. Or that she shouldn’t worry about her kids getting upset if you take her out for a date. Or that she really should get herself a better work-life balance.

If you’ve ever done anything like this, I cannot help but acknowledge that you have likely done so out of a genuine desire to pass on your handy tips acquired through your very full life of fact-gathering that she has unfortunately not been exposed to. See? There’s not even a way to explain it that sounds nice and appropriate and non-patronising. Or non-arrogant. And that’s because it is unfortunately glaringly patronizing and arrogant all at once. And also, therefore, quite likely to scare off most savvy women. The truth is that the vast majority of women already know they can pick up their own phones and Google, “how to eat more healthy” if they’re really stuck for ideas; and they couldn’t care less about your unsolicited non-expert opinions on the ins and outs of their personal lives.

But how can you tell when to offer advice? Obviously, it’s needed sometimes, right? I personally have a self-imposed rule that I do try to live by when it comes to whether or not my nose should be stuck into someone else’s stuff. It will probably work for you too in helping to reduce the rate at which you find yourself ignored or unmatched. Here it is:

Has she asked for my opinion?


Will she or someone else die or be at risk of harm without my advice?


Don’t give it.


Give her advice – but be polite and be kind about it. Expect to possibly lose this friend as collateral damage (but I’ll at least know I’ve done my best).

So there you have it, guys. 5 scary things you’ve collectively been doing to inadvertently get yourself ignored or unmatched. And more importantly, what you can start doing right away to prevent it and get yourself more Tinder dates with happy, emotionally healthy wonderful women. Happy Tindering – I wish you oodles of success!

Debbie is a psychology teacher and online dating coach. She has previously worked as a psychologist, civil servant and social researcher. She is British born and raised with Caribbean roots and has lived in Germany, Barbados and all around the UK. She has an "incredible!" adult daughter and is currently single and enjoying helping others find suitable dates.

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